Russia leads the world in one thing – number of content-removal demands to Google

China still in the toilet for internet freedom with 'draconian prison terms for online dissent'

Google has published its semi-annual set of stats revealing how many content takedown requests it receives from courts and governments worldwide.

The tech giant said in a blog post it is open to takedown requests but vets them to ensure a local law has been violated.

"Because we value access to information, we work to minimize over-reaching removals whenever possible by seeking to narrow the scope of government demands and ensure that they are authorized by relevant laws," said David Graff, Google's veep of Trust & Safety.

The Chocolate Factory reports separately on content-removal systems established by various governments, such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the US or the Right to be Forgotten included in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU.

According to the new data dump, the first half of 2021 (January through June) had the largest ever number of government takedown requests, and Google approved more than ever before.

The top countries by volume of requests were Russia (18,841), India (1,586), South Korea (1,297), Turkey (1,063) and Pakistan (883). By volume of items, the top countries are Indonesia (254,461), Russia (205,802), Kazakhastan (61,669), Pakistan (24,297), and South Korea (20,967).

But Google wants you to know it's not just them with record high requests. Research organisations like non-profit institute Freedom House report similar trends on all online platforms.

Freedom House said global internet freedoms declined this year for the 11th consecutive year. The worst deteriorations on their list occurred in Myanmar, Belarus, and Uganda, with Myanmar taking the largest hit since the org's "Freedom on the Net" report began.

China ranked as the worst environment for internet freedom for the seventh year in a row with "draconian prison terms for online dissent, independent reporting and mundane daily communications." COVID-19 remains one of the most heavily censored online topics in the Middle Kingdom.

Meanwhile, 48 countries pursued new rules for Big Tech. "With a few positive exceptions, the push to regulate the tech industry, which stems in some cases from genuine problems like online harassment and manipulative market practices, is being exploited to subdue free expression and gain greater access to private data," wrote Adrian Shahbaz and Allie Funk, describing the think tank's 2021 research. ®

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